» Tuesday, June 22, 2004

PM Speech/Public Services

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) briefed journalists on the Prime Minister's speech tomorrow on public services. The Prime Minister would stake out what he called 'the battleground for the future of our public services' in a keynote speech the day before the NHS Improvement Plan was published in Parliament by John Reid. He would argue that the extra investment and reform the Government had committed in recent years had brought real improvements in terms of capacity and performance across the public services. Recent reports from the NHS Chief Executive and the NHS Modernisation Board showed the progress that had been made in the health service for example. Waiting times had fallen dramatically and deaths from the big killers - heart disease and cancer - were down. The Prime Minister believed the progress provided the platform to drive forward with the next and most significant stage of reform and develop what he called the 'new generation of personalised services'.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about the continuing detention of eight British military personnel in Iran, the PMOS said that of course we remained concerned. We had been in contact with the Iranian authorities at different levels and locations and would continue to speak to them to try to resolve the issue as quickly and as easily as possible for all concerned. We would also continue to keep the relatives of those detained in Iran informed of any developments. Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that the detainees had been paraded on Iranian television, the PMOS said that we would continue to underline to the Iranian Government that we expected those being held to be treated in accordance with the relevant international criteria. Our view would be underlined once again this afternoon in a meeting with the Iranian Ambassador.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

International Development

Asked for a reaction to comments made by Bob Geldof about the Government's spending on aid to developing countries, the PMOS said that since we were in the run-up to the CSR, it was important that any remarks relating to Government spending were seen in that context. He took the opportunity to point out that by 2005/6 we would have committed £1bn in aid to Africa. In addition, the increase in aid since 1997 amounted to 97% in real terms, which in a growing GDP meant that we would have increased our aid from 0.26% of GDP to 0.4% by next year. That was a strong indication that we were putting our money where our mouths were.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)


(European Constitution)

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

(European Commission President)

Asked about the Irish Presidency's decision to hold another Summit to discuss nominations for the job of European Commission President, the PMOS said that as he understood it, it would only take place if there was a consensus as to who the new Commission President should be. Asked if the UK would be putting forward any names, the PMOS said that it was up to the Taoiseach to decide where the consensus was. Discussions about this issue were continuing to take place among all twenty-five EU members.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked the Prime Minister's view on what would appear to be a 'looming crisis' in Iran, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that we had now been told formally by the Iranian authorities that they were holding eight British military personnel and three boats. This morning, the Foreign Secretary had spoken to his Iranian counterpart, Kamal Kharazzi, in Tehran to raise his concerns about the detention. Foreign Minister Kharazzi had said that he would look into the case personally. We had asked for full details of the incident and for access to those being held. We would continue to do all we could to try to establish the facts. It went without saying that we wanted this matter to be resolved as quickly as possible.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)


Asked if a date had been set for the Chancellor's Comprehensive Spending Review announcement, the PMOS said not at this stage.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

European Commission President

Asked to name the candidate for the job of European Commission President whom Denis MacShane had said in an interview this morning everyone had appeared to agree to, the PMOS said he understood that Dr MacShane disagreed with the interpretation of his comments. What he had actually said was that the Taoiseach was seeking an agreed candidate. That was where we were. Asked for a reaction to reports that the latest candidate might be the Portuguese Prime Minister, the PMOS said that our position on this issue had not changed one iota since yesterday. There were a number of candidates whose names had been mentioned. The Taoiseach would consult all EU Heads of Government so that we could reach a consensus on this matter.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


Asked for a reaction to the intention by Unison delegates today to table a motion calling for the Prime Minister's resignation, the PMOS said that as a Civil Servant he was unable to comment on party political issues. However, the Prime Minister believed that anyone who looked at the Government's record on public services - whether it was health or education - would see that the real quality of service that individuals were receiving had improved greatly. That was a record on which he was proud to stand.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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